Review - Neanderthal Opens The Door To The Universe by Preston Norton

Freitag, 11. Mai 2018

Neanderthal Opens The Door To The Universe by Preston Norton
Published: May 22nd 2018 by Disney-Hyperion
Number of Pages: 400 Pages (Hardcover)
Series: No

   Cliff Hubbard is a huge loser. Literally. His nickname at Happy Valley High School is Neanderthal because he's so enormous-6'6" and 250 pounds to be exact. He has no one at school and life in his trailer park home has gone from bad to worse ever since his older brother's suicide.
   There's no one Cliff hates more than the nauseatingly cool quarterback, Aaron Zimmerman. Then Aaron returns to school after a near-death experience with a bizarre claim: while he was unconscious he saw God, who gave him a list of things to do to make Happy Valley High suck less. And God said there's only one person who can help: Neanderthal.
   To his own surprise, Cliff says he's in. As he and Aaron make their way through the List, which involves a vindictive English teacher, a mysterious computer hacker, a decidedly unchristian cult of Jesus Teens, the local drug dealers, and the meanest bully at HVHS--Cliff feels like he's part of something for the first time since losing his brother. But fixing a broken school isn't as simple as it seems, and just when Cliff thinks they've completed the List, he realizes their mission hits closer to home than he ever imagined. (

* Thank you to NetGalley and Disney-Hyperion for providing me with 
an eARC in exchange for my honest review *

   Neanderthal Opens The Door To The Universe is a marvelous read about grief, friendships, the struggles of high school and the ups and downs of life narrated with an authentic sounding teenage voice filled with pop culture references, funny but also heartfelt, thoughtful moments.

   Cliff and Aaron are fascinating and multi-faceted characters and their friendship was crazy and unique from beginning to end. Their conversations and the situations they get into together are hilarious but also scary at times, but luckily everything works itself out in the end, even if the way there is filled with twists and doubts. Their relationships with the other characters were interesting and watching them evolve over time was amazing. Cliff and Tegan were great together, the nerd squad with their love of all things geeky and debates about Apple were brilliant but also so true to life, Aaron and Lacy definitely had a lot of issues they certainly needed to work through but watching it all slowly happen over the course of the book was great. Nothing felt rushed or forced or unrealistic.

   As previously mentioned the voice of the narrator, being Cliff, was incredibly on point and perfectly represented a sixteen year old boy's thoughts and reasonings. They were a bit weird and wtf inducing at times, but that's how teenagers are, not every decision they make is perfect, or even reasonable at times. Honestly I loved Cliff as narrator and seeing him slowly grow, evolve, learn and change across the story was amazing, his character arc perfectly and realistically paced.

   I can easily say that Neanderthal Opens The Door To The Universe was one of my favorite 2018 releases and I'm really happy I got a chance to read it way earlier. It's one of those contemporary stories that, upon first glance, seem silly or just plain dumb, like some sort of comedy no one will take serious, but this story is so much more than that. I highly recommend it.
I give Neanderthal Opens The Door To The Universe by Preston Norton 5 out of 5 stars.

On writer pressure and self care

Mittwoch, 9. Mai 2018

   Hey everyone!

   Today I want to write about something a little different. Usually I'm all about blog tours, reviews or interviews, but I recently had a few amazing conversations with writer friends about the daily pressures we put on ourselves to write more, faster, better, so I thought why not write a post/discussion about it.

   When asked, I'm the sort of person who will immediately tell you to not stress yourself out about writing on a daily basis too much, to take it easy and have fun with it. But, unfortunately, when it comes to applying that same idea to myself, it's a struggle. On certain days I feel like if I don't write 2-3k words, it's a wasted day and that I'm a failure, that I should just quit because I will never be good enough.

   That, of course, is very counterproductive. I know that, you know that, everyone does, but it's easy to get caught up in such a mindset. If I don't write XYZ amount of words, what even am I doing.

Setting realistic word count goals

   This is something I feel like is very important. A goal is something you can work toward and that will give you this feeling of satisfaction and having achieved something once you reach it. But, it's very easy to set that goal much too high and start to panic when you're having one of those days when the words aren't coming to you easily or you just feel too exhausted to write due to other things going on in your life.

   As a good friend of mine said, it's better to set a small goal that you can use as motivation and know that step by step the story will get done eventually, instead of just not writing at all because you're too afraid of not hitting your target word count goal. If you set it as 200 or 500 words, that's usually an amount that's more than doable on a daily basis. It's easy to tell yourself just sit down and write 200 words, it won't take long but you'll know you wrote something, and once you hit those 200 words, chances are you'll feel good about yourself and motivated to continue.

   Meanwhile if you sat your goal as 3k or the world will end, it will become this daunting thing looming over your head like some kind of monster. Instead of being something you enjoy, writing will become more of a chore, something you dread and that makes you anxious, and that's not good, right? Plus, compared to 200 words, 3k takes far more time. 200 words is something you can quickly write during your break at work, in public transport or even while on the toilet, quick and easy. With 3k, yeah, not so much.

Be kind to yourself

   This one can be hard sometimes, especially in the era of social media and twitter when you follow all these other writers who seemingly always write more than you do and, instead of seeing it as motivation or something to work yourself up to, it turns into only more reasons of why you start to feel like a loser compared to them. But in all of it you have to remember that everyone has different lives. While some authors write full time and are able to dedicate the better part of their day to writing, others don't have that luxury, have to work or take care of their family. Does that mean they are less of a writer because their circumstances don't allow them to write as much as full time authors? No, of course not.

   It's easy to lose yourself in this idea that you have to be like your favorite authors, that you have to be able to write X amount of books every year, but really, do you?

   It's okay to find a routine that works for you, to allow yourself to have worse days where you only write a little bit or nothing at all and not see those days as wasted. Sometimes our brain and creativity just need a break and that's totally fine. You will have better days, and not so good days, and that's completely okay. Instead of seeing a seemingly low word count as waste of time or something that makes you a lesser writer, see them as successes. You've written something, and isn't that much better than not having written anything at all?

   Maybe it will take you longer to write that first draft if you 'only' write 200 words every day but eventually that draft will be completed. Who cares if it takes longer, it's still something many people will never achieve, and if you are kind to yourself, you will feel much better along the way. Sure, writing 3k or more on a daily basis looks great as twitter updates, I would know, but putting that kind of pressure on yourself, it will only do more harm than good in the long run.

The moral of the story

   Find whatever works for you and don't compare yourself to others, especially full time authors. If you're slower than them, that's completely fine. If you 'only' have time to write for an hour or less every day, that's still amazing. If you wrote 'just' 200 words, that's still 200 words more than you had yesterday. Be kind to yourself and allow yourself to see even small things as successes instead of shortcomings and set yourself goals that are achievable so they will motivate you instead of stressing you out.

   I struggle with this a lot myself and I'm trying to get better at it, so maybe, writing this and sharing my thoughts will remind me, too, that I should be kind to myself, and that every new word is one word more than I had yesterday.

   Writing books isn't a race.